Monday, March 27, 2006

Why Keys Are Expensive

When folks call and ask for a price quote to replace a set of keys that got lost for one of the newer cars, the keys that have fancy electronic packages hidden under the plastic head, I know that many of them suffer from “sticker shock”, not much different than when they bought the car in the first place. I tell them my price is based on the time it takes to make the mechanical key, the time it takes to program the key, my cost for the key blank with mark up and last on the list is the cost of the computer that does all that fancy programming.

I have a collection of programming computers that I carry around in my service truck, one is nearly obsolete and will only program certain cars that I hardly ever see anymore. These units cost anywhere from a thousand dollars, that obsolete unit, on up to about five thousand dollars for a mult-vehicle computer. That price gets the basic unit; adding the programs for each upgrade costs quite a bit too.

I just upgraded my multi-vehicle computer with software that will permit me to continue my efforts on 2006 model cars along with some programs recently made available for some older cars and trucks. My annual update would have cost $1700.00; but since I purchased multiple upgrades I was able to shave off $450.00. I also had to purchase an upgrade connection cable so I could work on the newer Mitsubishi vehicles, another $150 out the door.

If somebody wants to complain about how much something costs, having watched me breeze through making a key, I like to start with an apology, “Sorry it took so long.”, or “That only took me 30 years and 5 minutes to make it look that easy.” I then show them the neat little computer that hooks up to their vehicle and thank them for helping to pay for all those nice little upgrade packages.
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Ted said...

That is why I got out of the locksmithing business early.

KJ said...

I had to reprogram my car and get new keys b/c I lost the valet key. I still don't like it, but I didn't give the dealer a hard time. Still. It used to be just a friggin' key.

T. F. Stern said...

Ted and KJ, The next "key" on the horizon will be biometric. The high end cars are now keyless; Cadillac, Corvette, Mercedez and Lexus all have entirely keyless units. I can only imagine what's going to happen when these hit the used car market a few years down the road. The original owner will have to chop off his finger so the new owner can start the car...